- The Giants seem likely to hold onto Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto this offseason, opines Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. That’s not particularly surprising, as San Francisco has little in the way of rotation depth. Samardzija looks like a plausible trade candidate, but any return figures to be minimal. He’ll make $18MM as a 35-year-old rental and looks like a back-end starter at this point. Cueto, meanwhile, will need to reestablish his health before another club will consider paying down some of the $46MM he’s due over the next two seasons (including a 2023 buyout). The veteran (34 in February) started just four games in September following an August 2018 Tommy John Surgery. As Schulman notes, each pitcher could see his trade value rebound with a strong first half.
- The Dodgers have had a quiet start to the offseason, observes Andy McCullough of the Athletic. Given the club’s repeated postseason disappointments in recent years, many L.A. fans have called for a roster shakeup. That sentiment is shared by some in the Dodgers’ front office, relays McCullough, although the club’s only significant acquisition thus far has been reliever Blake Treinen, who inked a one-year, $10MM deal two weeks ago. While there’s still time for the Dodgers to make a splash- they remain front and center on the latest Mike Clevinger and Francisco Lindor rumors- McCullough points out that they haven’t acted rashly under Andrew Friedman’s leadership. They may not need to so this offseason, as they again look to be the overwhelming favorites in the NL West.
The latest from San Francisco…
- Jeff Samardzija will get a second opinion on his bothersome throwing shoulder, The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly reports (Twitter link). Samardzija has been out of action since mid-July with shoulder inflammation, and he most recently suffered a setback in his rehab process. Shoulder issues also required Samardzija to serve another DL stint earlier in the year, and given the lack of time remaining in the season, the Giants could very well decide to simply shut the right-hander down. The injuries have surely contributed to Samardzija’s poor numbers (6.25 ERA over 44 2/3 IP) in what has become a lost season for the veteran.
- There aren’t many past instances of a catcher undergoing hip labrum surgery, as Fangraphs’ Jay Jaffe explores, so the Giants can’t really be sure of what to expect from Buster Posey going forward after the longtime star returns from his imminent procedure. Undergoing this surgery could certainly help Posey regain some of his power, though since he’s entering his age-32 season, Posey might be due for something of a natural decline in any case. The Giants can’t explore a full-time move to first base for Posey due to Brandon Belt’s presence, and because Posey’s defense behind the plate is such a big plus for the team, Jaffe explains.
- The long-term answer for the Giants at catcher, of course, looks to be second overall pick Joey Bart. In a subscription-only piece for The Athletic, Baggarly looks at the prospect’s first pro season, which has already been an impactful one. Bart has already been promoted to low-A ball, and has a combined .306/.367/.589 slash line over 199 PA at the rookie league and low-A levels. It wouldn’t be a shock to see San Francisco aggressively promote Bart in 2019, given that Posey himself took a quick route to the majors (drafted fifth overall in 2008, made his big league debut in 2009). If Bart keeps up his progress, it will be interesting to see how the Giants manage the situation, given that Posey and Belt are both signed to big-money contracts through the 2021 campaign.
The Rays had a scare yesterday in regards to outfielder Mallex Smith, who was hospitalized due to a viral infection and has since been placed on the 10-day DL. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times has the full details here, noting that the infection doesn’t seem gravely serious and is a far cry from the severity of the bacterial infection that ended Indians outfielder Leonys Martin’s season. Smith was hitting .307 and functioning as the Rays’ leadoff hitter prior to being hospitalized, so the club will be keeping a close eye on his recovery. For the time being, right-hander Andrew Kittredge will take his spot on the active roster.
Other injury news and updates from around baseball…
- Though recent trends would have led Giants fans to believe Jeff Samardzija would be making a return to the mound in 2018, a new development has made that significantly less likely. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle hears that Samardzija has suffered a setback in his rehab from a shoulder injury. “There is a little concern there, to be honest,” manager Bruce Bochy said of the right-hander’s shoulder. “There’s some soreness. He’s not real close.” Samardzija has only taken the mound for ten starts so far this season, posting a nauseating 6.25 ERA.
- The Blue Jays don’t expect Troy Tulowitzki to make a return to the field this season, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca tweets. The message comes courtesy of manager John Gibbons. That means Tulo will have missed the entirety of the 2018 season after undergoing surgery on both of his heels at the outset of April. Even last season, Tulo played at replacement level by measure of Fangraphs’ WAR formula. With the shortstop’s lengthy injury history, it’s fair to wonder whether his playing career is in jeopardy.
- Though Michael Pineda was set to make a rehab start on Monday for the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune reports that it’s been canceled in favor of a trip to the doctor. Pineda will undergo an MRI to get to the bottom of the irritation in his right knee. Pineda signed a two-year pact with Minnesota this offseason, even though it was well-known that he wouldn’t pitch for most of the season while recovering from a Tommy John surgery he underwent in 2017.
It seems the Dodgers will activate closer Kenley Jansen for tonight’s game, the relief ace tells reporters including MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick (Twitter links). That’s certainly good news for a club that has struggled to wrap up games in the late innings without him. More importantly, it seems as if there’s ongoing cause for optimism that Jansen will not be limited by the irregular heartbeat that forced him to the hospital earlier this month.
More injury news from around the league…
- The Mets announced this afternoon that they’ve placed outfielder Brandon Nimmo on the 10-day disabled list due to a bruised left index finger. With Nimmo out for at least the next week-plus, the Mets will keep Dominic Smith on the 25-man roster for the time being. Smith had been with the club on Sunday as the 26th man in New York’s doubleheader, and while he’d been slated to return to Triple-A Las Vegas, he’ll now remain in the bigs. It seems likely that he’ll stay up long enough for rosters to expand on Sept. 1.
- Likewise, the Orioles say that they’ve placed Mark Trumbo on the disabled list due to inflammation in his right knee. In a pair of corresponding moves, Baltimore reinstated Adam Jones from the bereavement list and also recalled outfielder John Andreoli from Triple-A Norfolk after claiming him off outright waivers from the Mariners organization over the weekend. The rebuilding O’s owe Trumbo another $13.5MM next year and they’d no doubt like to find a way to trim back that commitment. This injury could take him out of any consideration for a late-August swap — not that a deal ever seemed particularly likely in the first place. While the 32-year-old is posting a solid .261/.313/.452 slash with 17 homers in 358 plate appearances, his defensive limitations will severely limit interest from contenders (whether now or in the offseason to come).
- While Logan Morrison was originally diagnosed with a hip impingement that necessitated season-ending surgery, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that the Twins first baseman/designated hitter actually had a torn labrum repaired and a bone spur removed from the ailing hip. Meanwhile, right-hander Ervin Santana is seeing a hand specialist to examine the surgically repaired middle finger on his right hand (also via Berardino, on Twitter). Initially projected to require a 12-month recovery that would’ve had Santana back in early May, the issue has proven to be considerably more problematic. Santana didn’t pitch until late July and has made just five starts with an 8.03 ERA in 2018.
- Giants righty Jeff Samardzija is still hoping to make it back from shoulder issues this season. As Kerry Crowley of the Bay Area News Group tweets, Samardzija is set for his first of two rehab starts this Wednesday. That would put the veteran hurler on track to start on the first day of September, when active rosters expand. Whether or not he’ll do so remains to be seen. For the Giants, any contribution will likely be too little, too late. But there is still time for the 33-year-old to put a more positive spin on his 2018 season. When he has been available to pitch this year, Samardzija has produced an ugly 6.25 ERA with an even more concerning 30:26 K/BB ratio in 44 2/3 innings over ten starts.
- Meanwhile, the Giants will welcome back emerging hurler Dereck Rodriguez, as John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets, to take the ball on Friday. Clearly, Rodriguez’s hamstring issues weren’t serious at all, as he only just hit the DL. That’s certainly good news for an organization that has been in need of future bright spots. Rodriguez came out of nowhere to throw 80 innings of 2.25 ERA pitching.
Though a few notable players went on the disabled list earlier today, some even more notable names are making progress in their returns. Here are the details…
- Shohei Ohtani is nearing a return to the mound, and his rehab seems to be going even better than expected (per Trent Rush of Angels Radio Network). The Angels double-threat reportedly threw from 120 feet “with aggression”. Ohtani, the club’s headliner offseason acquisition, is already back to doing damage at the plate, but the club would surely be glad to see him return with rest and rehab after suffering a grade 2 UCL sprain earlier this season; the alternative would of course be the feared Tommy John surgery which would keep him off the field until the beginning of the 2020 season.
- It would appear that Giants hurler Jeff Samardzija is even closer to a return, as the 33-year-old threw 30 pitches off a bullpen mound on Monday (h/t Chris Haft of MLB.com). “Shark” has been trudging through an injury-plagued 2018 season that’s seen him make just ten starts and average fewer than five innings across them. His hideous 6.25 ERA would be a career-worst by far, and his 5.44 FIP doesn’t paint a much kinder picture. The 57-58 Giants will surely be hoping he can provide a boost to their rotation after they opted not to sell off any assets at the trade deadline in overly-optimistic hopes of contending for an NL Wild Card.
- The outlook isn’t as optimistic for former wunderkind Julio Urias of the Dodgers. The 21-year-old lefty blew away the competition at every level of the minors en route to a 1.8 fWAR showing in his first taste of major-league action back in 2016, when he pitched to a 3.39 ERA in 77 innings. But he followed that up with a rough 2017 showing that saw him post a bloated 5.40 ERA and ultimately cede the season to an anterior capsule injury that required surgery. Now, according to Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, Urias’ velocity is down to 88-91 MPH after sitting closer to the mid-90’s for the majority of his pro career. Longenhagen also reports that the youngster’s secondary pitches are less “crisp” than they were pre-injury, leading to questions about whether Urias will ever be the same pitcher again.
- “I’m not going to get ahead of myself,” says Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant in reference to his latest attempt to return from a shoulder injury. In a video interview with Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribute, the former NL MVP details his patient approach to injury rehab (though it’s disappointing that the interview is largely inaudible). Bryant’s 2018 season has been marred by shoulder troubles, though he’s still managed an impressive .276/.380/.474 performance across 358 plate appearances while healthy. On the other hand, that’s not quite to the level of his career numbers (.286/.387/.519).
Reports yesterday indicated the Padres were checking around about a potential Chris Archer trade with the Rays, and MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi sheds a bit more light on those talks. San Diego is reportedly willing to move one or two of Francisco Mejia, Luis Urias, and Cal Quantrill in an Archer deal, though its top two prospects (Fernando Tatis Jr. and MacKenzie Gore) are not available. Even without Tatis or Gore on the table, dealing any of those other highly-touted prospects would be a major concession on San Diego’s part, and a big score for the Rays. Mejia was only just acquired by the Padres as the return for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber, so in my opinion, it could be that the team sees the young catcher as somewhat “found money” — put another way, the Padres would be essentially dealing Hand and Cimber for Archer, which is a deal the club would’ve happily made. Then again, the Padres are so deep in minor league talent that they can afford to move top names like Mejia, Urias, or Quantrill and still have one of the game’s better farm systems.
Scouts from the Padres and Diamondbacks (and, from outside the division, the Phillies and Cubs) watched Archer’s start last Sunday. A source tells Morosi that at least eight teams have recently been in touch with the Rays about Archer’s availability, and while there still isn’t clear sign Tampa is considering a trade, this deep interest is one of the reasons “a deal involving Archer is more likely now than at any point in recent memory,” Morosi writes.
Here’s more from around the NL West…
- There’s still no timetable for the Giants to welcome back righty Jeff Samardzija, though it’s not looking particularly promising. Per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, via Twitter, the veteran hurler is “not returning anytime soon.” Rather, he’ll continue to rest his ailing shoulder before heading out for some amount of rehab work. This continues to be a lost season for the 33-year-old, who owns a 6.25 ERA in 44 2/3 innings
- Though Samardzija’s ongoing injury issue is one of several less-than-promising signs for the Giants, indications are that they aren’t interested in packing up and waiting for next year. GM Bobby Evans says in a chat with Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the front office is “bent toward helping our current club.” Though Evans expressed at least some willingness to consider moving bullpen pieces, such a move wouldn’t really serve the team’s interests, particularly after the Giants previously gave up young talent to shed salary. While the team is still within reasonable striking distance in the NL West, its place in the trade deadline picture remains unclear — though Evans did shut down any thought that the team would make a last-minute decision to make star lefty Madison Bumgarner available.
- The Dodgers sent scouts to watch pitchers on both the Marlins and Rays when the two Florida rivals faced off last weekend, the Miami Herald’s Clark Spencer reports (Twitter link). L.A. could have interested in any number of relievers or perhaps even starting pitchers on either roster, given how many Miami and Tampa players have been cited in trade rumors. Interestingly, Spencer’s tweet was linked to a tweet from Michael J. Duarte of NBC Los Angeles, who said that the Marlins had scouts watching Yadier Alvarez’s most recent Double-A outing. A consensus top prospect headed into the 2017 season, Alvarez didn’t crack the preseason top-100 lists for Baseball America or MLB.com this year (though Baseball Prospectus still had him 41st) in the wake of an unimpressive season. Alvarez has continued to struggle in 2018, with a 5.85 ERA and 25 walks in 20 frames for Double-A Tulsa, though he’s still missing a lot of bats with his 100-mph fastball.
The Giants have placed right-hander Jeff Samardzija on the 10-day disabled list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder, Kerry Crowley of the Bay Area News Group was among those to report. Infielder Kelby Tomlinson is up from Triple-A Sacramento in a corresponding move.
This is the third DL stint of the season and the second on account of shoulder troubles for Samardzija, who was known for his durability entering the year. The 33-year-old came into 2018 fresh off five straight seasons of 200-plus innings. He has only thrown 44 2/3 at the halfway point this year, though, and hasn’t been effective when healthy enough to take the hill.
Samardzija has pitched to a 6.25 ERA/5.42 FIP thus far, thanks in part to poor strikeout and walk rates (6.04 K/9, 5.24 BB/9), a 29.9 percent groundball mark and a recent stark decline in velocity. All of those numbers represent personal-worst figures for Samardzija, who holds a 4.17 ERA/3.86 FIP with 8.1 K/9, 2.72 BB/9 and a 43.8 percent grounder rate for his career.
Samardzija is in the third season of a five-year, $80MM contract, a deal the Giants awarded him when he was a quality mid-rotation starter. Now, with a desire to stay under the $197MM competitive-tax threshold, they’d surely like to get rid of his money. The club has reportedly made him available, in fact, but his 2018 performance, newfound injury troubles and contract combine to make him immovable.
Despite Samardzija’s woes this year, the Giants sit a respectable 50-47, three games out of a wild-card spot and 3 1/2 behind the NL West-leading Dodgers. If Samardzija misses significant time after the All-Star break, it seems likely San Francisco will slot Derek Holland back into its rotation behind Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Andrew Suarez and Dereck Rodriguez.
The Braves have reportedly made an offer for Orioles superstar Manny Machado, but it doesn’t appear the shortstop will end up in Atlanta prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The Braves “are strictly on the fringes” of the Machado sweepstakes, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, who adds that they’re more concerned about upgrading their rotation.
More on the trade front…
- The Giants are willing to part with right-hander Jeff Samardzija, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports, adding that they specifically informed the Yankees he’s available. However, the Yankees aren’t sure if he’s the right fit for their stadium, per Nightengale. Sending Samardzija anywhere would be a tall task for San Francisco, as he’s due $19.8MM per year through 2020 and is in the midst of a rough season. The longtime workhorse, 33, has missed time with pectoral and shoulder problems, and when Samardzija has taken the mound, he has only managed a 6.42 ERA/5.47 FIP over 40 2/3 innings.
- More on the Yankees, whose starting third baseman, Miguel Andujar, has been in the rumor mill of late. The Rangers and “several” other teams have made more than one inquiry regarding Andujar in the past, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. And “multiple executives” informed Sherman that the Yankees are now trying to drive up Andujar’s value so they can sell high on the 23-year-old. General manager Brian Cashman shot that down, though, saying: “That is completely false. I think [Andujar] is a hell of a player. We have said ‘no’ to him [in trade talks] not just this year but from Double-A on up. I have not included him any deals and that should say how I feel about him.” Cashman goes on to defend Andujar’s questionable defense in Sherman’s piece and adds, “Where he was and where he is now, I feel vindicated not moving him.”
- With the Cardinals sitting at a mediocre 47-45, 6 1/2 games out in the NL Central, they’re not in position to make any bold rental pickups. Rather, any acquisition(s) would likely have to be capable of helping the Redbirds beyond this season, president John Mozeliak suggested to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com and other reporters Friday. “Ultimately we want to do what’s best for this organization, not just in the sense of a Band-Aid [but] long term,” Mozeliak said. “If we thought there was sort of that one magic bullet to change the trajectory of the season, we might chase that. If not, I think looking at it in a broad sense might make the most sense. The ebb and flow of the season, the ebb and flow of the next few weeks always [dictates] the types of deals you make.”
The Giants announced a collection of roster moves today, including the news that right-hander Jeff Samardzija has been activated from the 10-day DL to start today’s game against the Cardinals. Infielder Chase d’Arnaud will also join the 25-man roster after his contract was purchased from Triple-A. In corresponding moves, second baseman Joe Panik was officially placed on the 10-day DL with a left groin strain, righty Chris Stratton was sent down to Triple-A, and Hunter Strickland was moved from the 10-day to the 60-day DL.
[Updated Giants depth chart at Roster Resource]
Samardzija suffered some right shoulder tightness during a start on May 29 and ended up missing over a month of action while recovering. The time off could serve as a virtual reset on Samardzija’s season, as he had a 6.56 ERA and almost as many walks (23) as strikeouts (26) in eight starts and 35 2/3 IP prior to his injury. Injuries have plagued San Francisco’s rotation for much of the year, though the Giants finally have their projected top three of Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Samardzija all active at the same time. The rotation could go from a problem area to a strength for the Giants in the pennant race, particularly since Andrew Suarez and Dereck Rodriguez have both pitched well in fill-in duty. Indeed, it was Stratton rather than Rodriguez who was sent down to Triple-A to make room for Samardzija’s return.
d’Arnaud signed a minor league deal back in January and now get his first taste of big league action in 2018. He’ll take Alen Hanson’s spot as the utilityman while Hanson gets more regular duty filling in for Panik at second base. Versatility has been the watchword for d’Arnaud over his six MLB seasons, as the 31-year-old has played at least one game at every position except pitcher and catcher.
The Giants announced on Wednesday that right-hander Jeff Samardzija has been placed on the 10-day disabled list due to tightness in his right shoulder. Right-hander Tyler Beede is up from Triple-A Sacramento to take his spot on the roster for the time being, though the organization’s current hope is that Samardzija will only miss one start, per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. An MRI revealed some inflammation in Samardzija’s shoulder, per Schulman, but there’s no structural damage. With so many injuries in their rotation, the Giants briefly had all three starters listed as “TBA” this weekend, though they’ve since said that Chris Stratton and Andrew Suarez will start the first two games of the series, while a determination on Sunday’s starter has seemingly yet to be made. Schulman notes that the club had been planning to move lefty Ty Blach to the bullpen, but he’s now a candidate to start in Samardzija’s place on Sunday, as is rookie Dereck Rodriguez.
A bit more out of San Francisco, where there are several roster decisions looming on the horizon…
- With Joe Panik, Alen Hanson and Mark Melancon all likely to return from the DL this weekend, and Madison Bumgarner likely to be activated next Tuesday, and two of them (Melancon and Bumgarner) will require corresponding 40-man moves. Kerry Crowley of the San Jose Mercury News runs through some possibilities for the roster over the next six days, listing Steven Okert, Roberto Gomez and Jose Valdez as candidates to be designated for assignment in order to clear 40-man spots for Melancon and Bumgarner.
- More complicated, Crowley notes, is the impending return of Hunter Pence from the 10-day DL. Manager Bruce Bochy implied that Pence will return to the 25-man roster when his rehab window expires this weekend, though his exact role looks uncertain. Andrew McCutchen is the team’s regular right fielder, and the Giants have said that Mac Williamson will be given an everyday opportunity in left field. Pence, of course, can’t play center field, so he appears headed for a limited role. Crowley suggests that either Austin Jackson or Gregor Blanco could land on the disabled list as a temporary fix, though it stands to reason that if Williamson proves adept in left field, the Giants could eventually have a more difficult decision on their hands.